Moving house with your dog!

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They say that moving house is one of the most stressful things ever - up there with death and divorce.

Having just moved house, I can tell you this is true! Unfortunately there was an incompetent solicitor in the chain who slowed things down by a whole month, day by day, week by week. So everyone involved was very fraught. This didn’t help my dogs.

As we know, dogs are so sensitive. They pick up our moods and worries. Along with all the upheaval of clearing out, getting rid of stuff, and moving everything around the house, this gave them an unsettled few weeks too.

I’m fortunate that my campervan is fully kitted out for the dogs, so it was easy enough to park them in there and move the van out of the drive when the packers and movers were at work. A friend who is moving this week is taking her anxious dog to an excellent kennels for a few days. He’s been happy there before, so by the time he arrives in the new home it’ll all be safely fenced and ready. It’s important that at this time of upheaval you keep everything as stable and familiar as possible.

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As mine was a long-distance move, we “camped out” in the new house till all our belongings arrived two days later. I’ve never been happier to see my bed! (Likewise Cricket the Whippet, who was in it before you could say “woppit”.)

Having spent a couple of months in Limbo with all the delays - never knowing where anything was - I was determined to unpack the boxes as fast as possible. So by Monday it was virtually all done, and the boxes recycled to a couple of other home-movers.

The house began to look like a home!

Sniffing about

We all know how important the dog’s sense of smell is. A third of their brain is dedicated to this sense, which is infinitely superior to ours. So my dogs spent plenty of time in the new house sniffing boxes, furniture, objects - and importantly their beds - and feeling at home.

Surprisingly, perhaps, the one who was easiest to manage was my cat Squeak. Squeak has always been a half-outdoor cat, and never used a litter box. She is an intrepid explorer and joins me and the dogs on walks now and then.

All the books and sites say you have to keep your cat in for weeks when you move. No chance! I had thought I’d have to capture her before the moving men arrived and keep her crated till we arrived here (that would be around 10 hours captivity), but as she got on so well - watching curiously as the strange men packed everything in the house a couple of days before - I decided to wait till the vans had left. This paid off, and she only had to spend the journey-time in the crate (about 5 hours).

The minute we arrived in the empty house, the dogs and cat were free to explore the garden. We all froze at night - having to leave a window open with a chair and bin outside to help Squeak get in and out - till a catflap was put in the door.

Squeak had no trouble with this arrangement, and has settled into her new home straight away, seamlessly.

Clingy dogs

 Four dogs and one cat get as close to me as possible when I finally hit the armchair on moving day!

Four dogs and one cat get as close to me as possible when I finally hit the armchair on moving day!

The dogs, on the other hand, stayed unsettled for a good few days. Wherever I went, four sets of paws pattered after me - just in case I should escape!

Lying on top of me or round my feet was considered a good strategy for anchoring me.

After a week they’re much more relaxed, and used to the new practices here.

New house rules

As there’s a public footpath running alongside the garden, and as I have two reactive dogs (!), we are learning to ignore the sounds of the occasional walker + dog going by. This needs careful work from the outset in a new home. The last thing you want is a habit of fence-barking or fence-running to establish itself - that’s much harder to eradicate than to prevent.

So I am always armed with treats when in the garden (when am I ever not armed with treats?) and the dogs are never out there alone. I’m ready for the moment one alerts to the sound of a passer-by and we move straight into our lesson: those people may be ignored, they’re not coming in here, they’re allowed on the path. You just enjoy these treats instead.

What I’m doing is technically known as counter-conditioning. I’m changing the dogs’ emotional response to the thing they’re afraid of, so that they no longer feel the need to fear it. Repetition and consistency are key.

They didn’t bark at the (much closer) neighbours in our last house, because they were used to them, they were predictable. So it’s only a matter of time before they pass no remarks when the gravel crunches beside our new garden.

And almost the first thing I did was to spend 15 minutes putting window film on part of the front windows, so that the dogs needn’t feel threatened by every passer-by. If you have a reactive dog - you need window film!

How to move house and pets easily

Are you and your dog moving home soon? Make life easy for both of you with some forward planning | FREE EMAIL TIPS | #dogbehavior, #dogsandcats, #travellingwithpets, #movinghouseanddogs, #dogtraining, | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

So you can see that to have a successful house-move you have to consider the animals well in advance. Mine are used to going to strange new places in the campervan, and know the van is their base when we’re on the move. They are comfortable in their beds there, and know that dinner will still arrive! They’ve also had short stays in holiday cottages.

My friend’s dog was well used to the kennels she used. It’s no use just whamming your dog in kennels if he’s never been there before! With all the upheavals and anxiety at home associated with the forthcoming move he’s likely to feel very lost and upset.

As mine was a long-distance move, kennels were not an option for me. And in any case, I felt sure that all five of my companions would be happier being with me, however strange it may all be.

So include your pets in your moving plans from the start. It will all be worth it when you are settled in your new home!

Brilliant Family Dog and Good for Dogs!

In case you’re wondering, this move does not in any way affect Brilliant Family Dog. All the courses, both free and paid, are running as usual. I am in the private course groups daily with guidance and support - as usual.

The Wiggles Wags and Whiskers Freedom Harnesses and Leads are still available at www.goodfordogs.co.uk/products as usual.

The only change is to Good for Dogs!, my erstwhile dog training school on the ground in Worcestershire. This has, of course, closed there, but will be reopening here in Norfolk! Group classes will begin next year, while 1-1 sessions with anxious, fearful, aggressive, reactive, “growly”, dogs will start almost immediately.

As one Gloucestershire student put it,

Hi Beverley, The other side of the country will gain a fab dog trainer but sadly our loss.

I fully intend to live up to that charming remark, and bring force-free, dog-friendly, dog training to the good people (and their slightly less good!) dogs here in Norfolk.

I’d like to thank so many of you for your thoughts and well wishes for my move!

Please keep in touch. I will still be able to help all my past students, even though further away.

ZZZs are worth £££s and $$$s

How much does my puppy need to sleep? Most people are shocked to hear this answer! Check it out and instantly get a calmer, nip-free home | FREE BOOK! | #newpuppy, #dogtraining, #newrescuedog, #puppynipping, #doghealth, #dogbehavior, #dogsleep, #overexciteddog | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

“You have to help us - he’s shredding our hands,” wailed the girl on the phone. 

“He just goes mad - he’s vicious!

She was talking about her new puppy - a Cocker Spaniel crossed with a Poodle (a difficult mix at the best of times). I asked the puppy’s age. 

“He’s eleven weeks. OW! Scamp, NO! Get off! Oh no, my jumper …”

 “How long has Scamp been awake?” I asked.

“Only three hours,” she replied.

“Then there’s your problem. Put him straight to bed. Now.”

With a puppy as young as Scamp, one hour of being awake is usually quite enough. Time to put him away in his crate for a ziz. 

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With my latest puppy Coco, I would shut him in his crate at nap time, put a blanket over the top and three sides to make a cosy den, leave the room and shut the door. There’d be a bone or chew toy if he felt the need to do something. If there was a lot of noise outside I would play soothing music to mask it.

Any noise from the puppy before falling asleep would be totally ignored, so he quickly didn’t bother to make any. If your puppy is bored, sleep will soon waft over him!

When I returned a couple of hours later, my blissfully relaxed puppy would be stretching and smiling and ready to start the adventure again. Check out this piece for exactly how to achieve this blessed state!

As he grew he was able to manage longer times of being up and doing. 

Getting frayed and fractious, bitey and snappy, is a sure sign of an overtired puppy who is unable to control himself. Time to pop him in his crate or playpen, leave him in peace and wait for him to awaken refreshed. 

Older Dogs

And the same goes for older dogs. They need their beauty sleep! And they need much more than they’re usually allowed. Research has shown that an adult dog needs 17 hours of sleep a day to be mentally and physically healthy. 17 hours! How many dogs get that much sleep?

If your dog seems to be on the go the whole time, running himself ragged, chasing birds, chewing up anything he finds, alert at the smallest sound - you need to organise proper nap times, just as you would for a young child. Make them part of your routine so that your dog’s internal clock gets in sync with them.

At the moment I am working, so my dogs are all snoozing. They no longer need to be confined to a crate as they were as young puppies. There are many beds here and they are free to sleep where they will. 

How well do you feel after a good night’s sleep? Your dog needs much more than you do to feel as good! Check out this post to find out more. | FREE BOOK! | #newpuppy, #dogtraining, #puppynipping, #newrescuedog, #doghealth, #dogbehavior, #dogsleep, #overexciteddog | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

So Cricket the Whippet is sunbathing on the grass outside. Rollo the Border Collie is dozing in the shade. Coco is on a hammock bed near me, and Lacy is on the floor just behind my chair. 

Not only are they going to awake rested, but I can work undisturbed. I can pay lots of attention to them when I’m ready, and I know nothing in the house or garden will have been damaged.

Early crate training ensured that the only chewing they ever did was of the approved items (bones, toys) which lived in their crates. Establishing early habits like this is hugely helpful later on. The chewing habit doesn’t have to be broken because it never got out of hand!

Start on Day 1

So start as you mean to continue, with lots of naps throughout the day for your young pup or new rescue dog. This will build a lasting routine for your puppy, and help to build feelings of security and confidence for your new rescue dog (who doesn’t need to brave the big bad world yet. Not until she knows this is home and you can be trusted to keep her safe.)

Always start from where you are! We can’t alter the past. We can just assess the present situation, see where it needs to improve, and change the future.
Dogs need to sleep much longer than most people think. Find out how to get some much-needed peace and calm from your over-excited dog | FREE BOOK! | #newpuppy, #dogtraining, #puppynipping, #newrescuedog, #doghealth, #dogbehavior, #dogsleep, #overexciteddog | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

So your present dog, who races round all day and never sleeps, will need to start with short naps - gradually getting longer - with you still around. Feeding all meals in the crate will help her to love the place, and a foodtoy to lick and slurp while dozing off will be ideal. 

Teaching her how to relax on her mat will help her learn how to switch off. This book will show you how, in easy steps.

Yes, you can have a calm house and a relaxed dog. The first step is to sort out sleeping times.

Sleep is the great healer!


Check out our Free Courses and Courses pages to see how else you can help your mad dog become your Brilliant Family Dog!

Should my dog wear a muzzle?

Should my dog wear a muzzle? I’m worried that people will think my dog is aggressive and I’m a bad dog-owner! Find out here how to teach your dog to love wearing a muzzle | FREE EMAIL COURSE | #aggressivedog, #reactivedog, #dogtraining, #growlydog, #dogmuzzle, #dogmuzzletraining | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

This is a question I get a lot. And it usually comes from people who really, deep down, know the answer. They just can’t bring themselves to take this step.

So first off - if your dog has bitten anyone or anything, or you fear he may bite - have sense and muzzle-train him. This is not only for safety, but also for the health of your heart-rate and possibly your bank balance, if things go badly wrong.

There are many useful occasions for a muzzle - a vet or groomer visit for an anxious dog is one. Far better for your dog to be used to his muzzle and arrive already wearing it, rather than be man-handled by staff putting a strange one on him. 

Then there’s the slug-muncher and stone-eater - and harvesters of other unmentionable stuff that some dogs take a fancy to! Rather than try and catch him and nag the whole time, just prevent it.

 If you don’t want something to happen, don’t let it happen

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Some dogs can cope with people outside the house, but visitors inside the house terrify him. Give yourself and your dog a break by muzzling him before your guests arrive. Once you relax a bit because you know your friends and family aren’t going to be shredded and spat out on the carpet, your dog will have a better chance of relaxing too. Of course the dog must be happy to be there - not just forced in on the basis that he’s no longer dangerous!


But people will think my dog is nasty!

Maybe they will. Maybe they won’t. (Maybe they do already.) If they’re strangers, do you really care? And if they’re friends, you can explain to them. 

One surefire thing about a muzzle is that it tends to keep people away - which is just what you want! They think your dog must be dangerous and therefore move their dogs and children aside, as well as themselves. It doesn’t seem to occur to them that your dog is actually the safest of all now! But this is a good outcome. Your anxious dog doesn’t need people/children/dogs in her face.

If you feel anxious yourself about muzzling your dog, think how you’ll feel if you relax your vigilance for a moment and your dog bites someone! Would that be worse? Definitely. Bite the bullet and just do it. 


What sort of muzzle should I get?

There’s quite a variety of muzzles available. 

• Cloth muzzle: this is the sort that vets may put on a dog for a few moments while they treat her. It should never be on for long - or be put on an unsupervised dog - as it prevents the dog from panting or drinking, and is therefore dangerous. It’s also not advised for brachycephalic dogs (squashed-nose dogs, so popular at the moment) as they already struggle to breathe and these cloth muzzles have proved fatal in some cases for these dogs. So on no account get this one!

• Basket muzzle: what you need is a basket muzzle that allows your dog to open her mouth fully, to eat, drink, pant, and not feel constrained. But these vary hugely, and you need to get the right one for your dog.

Should I muzzle my dog? I’m worried that people will think my dog is aggressive and I’m a bad dog-owner! Find out here how to teach your dog to love wearing a muzzle | FREE EMAIL COURSE | #aggressivedog, #reactivedog, #dogtraining, #growlydog, #dogmuzzle, #dogmuzzletraining | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

• Baskerville muzzles: perhaps the commonest. They don’t allow full opening of the mouth. The inability to pant could have serious consequences for a dog who needs to lower her body temperature. 

• Baskerville Ultra muzzle: is often the go-to muzzle as it’s widely available. But this doesn’t mean it’s the right one for your dog! They have an optional head-strap which can be useful for keeping the thing on, but they are really designed for brachycephalic dogs and are too short for longer-nosed dogs. See Lacy in hers. She hated it - you can see that in the photo. Any larger and it would have fallen off her face. 

 • Leather custom-made colourful muzzles: very expensive and they look pretty constricting to me. It looks hard to get treats in at the right moment (essential if you’re working on counterconditioning an anxious or fearful dog). But I know some people like them.

• Racing greyhound muzzle: my favourite, and the one Lacy is wearing in the other pictures. Made to measure, available in loads of colours, incredibly lightweight, it allows full opening of the mouth for even a gasping racing dog, treats are easy to administer, and most important - Lacy is very happy to wear it. She comes forward and puts her face in, as opposed to running and hiding as she did when she saw the Baskerville Ultra.

Bottom line: your dog should find the muzzle comfortable, it should be easy to slip on, secure, and allow your dog to drink, pant, eat treats, and possibly play.


Muzzles are ugly

They don’t need to be! You can decorate your dog’s muzzle any way you like. You can see I “girlified” Lacy’s black muzzle, and I’ve added a little fleece to the top of her pink racing muzzle in case it chafed. It never did, but I felt it was kinder to cushion it as sometimes she will be wearing it for a couple of hours at a time. 

You can use paint, stickers, ribbons, sparkly stuff (make sure it can’t flake into your dog’s eyes or nose) - anything that shows that your dog is loved.

 

I tried a muzzle once and my dog hated it and kept scrabbling at her face!

Wouldn’t you? If someone slapped a cage on your face without asking? 

Just as with any bit of dog gear - harness, collar, coat - you have to acclimatise your dog to this slowly. The idea is to associate the new thing with a steady flow of treats until your dog can’t wait to put her nose in! 

Start by treating her for just looking at it; then for sniffing it, then for touching it with her nose … and so on. Those three steps alone may take you three days or more! Go at your dog’s speed, don’t try to rush. 

The key is that your dog should always have the choice to move forward to interact with the muzzle. You’re not grabbing her and whamming it on!

There is an excellent how-to video in the Resources below. Do watch it then work through it step-by-step. Once you’re at the stage of putting the muzzle on before a walk, your dog will associate it with treats and a walk. 

This is the perfect ending - as long as your dog likes walks! If not, then have a look at some of the other Growly Dog posts here.


There is no stigma in being a responsible dog-owner!

Your muzzled dog will be able to enjoy group walks again! Find out here how to teach your dog to love wearing a muzzle | FREE EMAIL COURSE | #aggressivedog, #reactivedog, #dogtraining, #growlydog, #dogmuzzle, #dogmuzzletraining | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

Don’t think you are appearing a bad owner if your dog is wearing a muzzle! You are being a responsible owner! You are acknowledging that your dog has difficulties in certain areas of her life and you are aiming for the best possible outcome. Never be ashamed of this. 

Muzzling your dog may allow him valuable off-lead time. This does depend on the level of his anxiety and the amount of behaviour modification training you’ve put in place. You must always think safety first. 

As you can see in the photo, a group walk can be made possible for a muzzle-trained dog. Ensure your dog is happy with the space between her and the other dogs so she doesn't feel trapped.

And it doesn’t mean the end of fun for your dog! I know dogs who wear the same muzzle as Lacy who can still play with their beloved toys as they can press down on the ground and get a grip on its “handle”. So a ball on a rope is the ideal solution for the toy-mad dog who needs to wear a muzzle.

Store your dog’s muzzle in a prominent place near your leads and harnesses. Put it on your dog proudly! Be glad of how much relief it brings you. And know you’re doing the right thing.

 

 

Resources

Muzzleupproject
Teach your dog to wear a muzzle with Chirag Patel
Racing muzzles
Doglaw - excellent dog-specific legal advice for the UK

Free 8-part email course for your Growly but Brilliant Family Dog!

 

 

 

 

Do you make this mistake with your dog?

Want to take your shy dog to a cafe? You can! Follow the suggestions here and you can make it work, and really enjoy your family dog | FREE VIDEO COURSE | #problemdog, #reactivedog, #dogtraining, #growlydog, #puppysocialisation | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

I was sitting in a cafe with Coco Poodle lying beside me on his mat, calmly watching the other visitors, with a chew to engage him too. 

I’d chosen a quiet place out of the way of foot traffic. He couldn’t get trodden on, and I know that he also enjoys being able to see out of the big windows.

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At a table right in the middle of this cafe, a woman was reprimanding her small dog. He clearly felt uneasy with all the activity around him - people walking this way and that, almost treading on him - and was seeking security by trying to get onto her lap. 

“Get off!” “Down!” “No!” “Get down!!” she kept saying.

This did nothing to allay her dog’s anxiety, and her attention was simply fuelling his desire to climb up. 

Eventually he gave up. He was defeated and alone. He looked around him - worried - and sat.

And what did his owner say to this?

Absolutely nothing.

 

Want to take your shy dog to a cafe? You can! Follow the suggestions here and you can make it work, and really enjoy your family dog | FREE VIDEO COURSE | #problemdog, #reactivedog, #dogtraining, #growlydog, #puppysocialisation | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

Consider your dog's comfort too

I thought it very sad that she had no thought of why her dog was trying to jump on her. She was only concerned about what people may think. Her barrage of commands was a knee-jerk reaction to the dog’s paws on her lap. 

She then compounded her error by nagging the dog repeatedly - and when he eventually complied (more by luck than by judgment!) she ignored him.

I’ve no doubt that this lady’s a kind and friendly person who thought she was doing the right thing to get her dog to behave in public. But unfortunately many people have no idea how to achieve this except by using bossy methods.

Sadly she’d got it quite the wrong way round!

What you focus on is what you get.

Drawing attention to what she didn't want was making it more likely that that was what she was going to keep getting!

So what would have worked better?

*If she had responded to his fears and need for reassurance he would have settled sooner.

• If she had ignored his clambering attempts then responded to him warmly when he stopped she’d have had far greater success at keeping his feet on the floor. 

• And if she had realised that the middle of the cafe was not the best place for her nervous little dog and chosen a better place to sit,

• given him a mat or blanket or her coat to lie on,

• dished out treats freely for him being quiet and calm, 

• responded by reassuring him that the floor was a safe place to be,

• and had come prepared with a foodtoy or chew for him to focus on, 

it would have been better again.

 

It’s a very small change - just a switch from being reactive to being proactive

 

But it will change your dog’s state of mind in an instant.

 

Lots more ways to become proactive and stop nagging your dog in our free 8-part email course!

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Where are my spoons? Why your dog runs out of calmness

How does heat affect your dog? We all know not to leave a dog in a car - but have you thought how the heat can affect his psyche? Read this post for some eye-openers! | FREE VIDEO WORKSHOP | #anxiousdog #dogtraining, #newrescuedog, #puppytraining, #dogbehavior, #heatindogs, #cooldog | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

It’s a puzzle to so many people. Their dog is easygoing and tranquil, and out of nowhere he snarks at another dog - or snaps at a child - or even growls at you! 

Maybe your dog is not so easygoing and you have just learned to live with these “random” outbursts. You never know when he’s going to be in a good humour, and when he’s going to have a meltdown.

But you CAN know! 

If you’re aware of what’s using up your dog’s patience stores, you’ll be able to manage him so that he doesn’t run out entirely, and be left with no way to go except have an outburst.

What you need to learn about is known as Trigger Stacking. And at the moment we have a huge extra trigger that many people simply aren’t aware of.

Heatwave!

In the UK at the moment we are enjoying (or suffering!) extreme weather. Weeks of temperatures in the high 70s and 80s (that's the high 20s in new money) - we’re not used to it at all!

So spare a thought for your dog, who has to wear his full fur coat regardless of the weather. 

You doubtless know all the commonsense advice for dogs and hot weather: 

• Ensure plenty of fresh water is available

• Brush out the winter coat as far as possible, and trim and shear hairy beasties

• Cut back on walks - maybe none at all for a few days, and certainly only at the cool ends of the day

There’s more to keeping your dog cool in the summer than his physical comfort. It can also help with dog anxiety and general dog behavior. Read this post for some eye-openers! | FREE VIDEO WORKSHOP | #anxiousdog #dogtraining, #newrescuedog, #puppytraining, #dogbehavior, #heatindogs, #cooldog | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

• Limit access to the garden UNLESS you have a paddling pool to entertain your dog, or unless he has enough sense to find a shady spot and stay there

• Check temperature of the ground with your hand. Have you seen people doing the hoppy dance on a hot beach when they have no shoes on? 

• Don’t leave your dog in a car, even with the windows open, without taking measures to keep it cool. This will include covering all the windows, ensuring a through draught, running an aircon, and - of course - parking in the shade.

• Consider a cooling mat for a double-coated breed, or a cooling shirt. A wet t-shirt will work well too, but you need to keep wetting it.

• Frozen food-toys may be popular

• Observe speed of panting and shape of tongue - a long spoon-shaped tongue means your dog is working hard to get rid of heat 

 

Heatstroke in dogs can be quick, and deadly. So please take the precautions above to ensure your dog is protected.

Hothead

But you also need to consider how this heat is impacting his mental state.

I’d like you to take a quick detour and bone up on Spoon Theory. This explains so well how limited stores of energy have to be farmed and managed carefully. The same applies for our dogs with their limited store of tolerance. 

Before you even step out of the door on a hot day, your dog is stressed. He’s already used up a boatload of spoons and may be running critically low. This could apply to the calmer dog as well as the “reactive” or growly dog.

You know how quickly you can get annoyed when you're uncomfortable - especially if you're not used to the heat? Think of airport rows and road rage in hot traffic jams.

There’s more to keeping your dog cool in the summer than his physical comfort. It can also help with dog anxiety and general dog behavior. Read this post for some eye-openers! | FREE VIDEO WORKSHOP | #anxiousdog #dogtraining, #newrescuedog, #puppytraining, #dogbehavior, #heatindogs, #cooldog | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

Lots of people will be out and about in holiday mode, with dogs who are only walked on high days and holydays, and everyone will be hot and bothered.

So seek out quieter walks, shaded walks - if you can find a place for your dog to swim, so much the better! - and cut out the ball-throwing till the worst of this heat is over. It will be over soon enough, and all us Britishers can go back to talking about the weather in disparaging terms! 

And if you live in a permanently hot place, you’ll have worked out your own ways of keeping your home cool, and strategies to get about outside without boiling. A reader from Texas told me that she can only take her dog out for 20’ at 5 am - after that it’s into the hundreds and impossible. 

 

Triggers, and spoons

Armed with this knowledge, you can now look at your dog in a different way. Hopefully a more understanding and tolerant way. He’s not being difficult - he’s struggling in circumstances he finds hard at the best of times, and may now be finding impossible.

In the greater scheme of things, it really doesn’t matter if your dog doesn’t go for a walk for several days - or even weeks. And contrary to what you may be thinking, you may be surprised to find that your normally hyper dog in fact gets calmer and more manageable, the less he’s walked!

Help him by managing his day carefully when outside influences are making it harder for him. He’s relying on you! 

 

 

 

Want to know more about keeping walks calm and pleasant? Whether your dog is “growly” or just a bit anxious on walks, you’ll find a lot to help you in this Free 5 Day Workshop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How training your dog can help you train people

How can you protect your dog from well-meaning people who want to pet him? Here are some easy dog training techniques to kindly control your dog and train your visitor! FREE VIDEO WORKSHOP | #shydog, #dogtraining, #newrescuedog, #puppytraining, #dogbehavior | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

Some people are good at greeting dogs. And some are … not. It’s not a skill we’re born with (think how long it takes to teach children how to greet people politely!), so we have to teach those who approach us how to greet our dog - or, indeed, whether they may greet her at all!

If your dog is like Greta Garbo, who famously said, “I want to be left alone,” then no greeting is required. This is where you’ll have to use your dog training skills to prevent a quick lunge from the visitor, now wailing “But dogs like me!” as they jump back alarmed from a snap.

You may have dogs who lurve people and want to jump all over them. Yapping NO at your dog, flapping your hands and yanking the lead is not going to cut it. You need to teach your ebullient dog how to greet strangers - and for this you need the stranger’s co-operation!

So how can you get the people you meet to comply?

You can use the same mantra we use for our dogs - 

Reward what you like
Ignore what you don’t like
Manage what can’t be ignored

This means that if your visitor does what you ask, they earn the reward of greeting your dog. If they do inappropriate things (in your dog’s eyes) then you ignore their efforts as you focus on directing them to what you do want, and manage the situation so they can’t interfere with your dog.

Let’s have a closer look at this.


The shy, anxious, or fearful dog

Evasion skills for your shy or worried dog

How can you protect your dog from well-meaning people who want to pet him? Here are some easy dog training techniques to kindly control your dog and train your visitor! FREE VIDEO WORKSHOP | #shydog, #dogtraining, #newrescuedog, #puppytraining, #dogbehavior | www.brilliantfamilydog.com
  • Carwash - teach your dog to run behind you and appear peekaboo-style between your legs. Few strangers will grope between your legs to get at your dog
  • Get behind - lurking behind your legs may work better for very large or very shy dogs
  • Down - can get them out of arm’s reach of invasion
  • Muzzle - If your dog has a tendency to lunge and snap, teach her to be happy in her muzzle. This will relax you as you’re not worried about damage, and does tend to keep people away. They think this dog is dangerous - in fact she’s safer than an unmuzzled dog

 

Where you can help

  • Get between your dog and the kindly visitor intent on grabbing her
  • Use your body to block the path to your dog, and keep moving as necessary to stay in the way
  • Asking the would-be greeter questions and taking control of the meeting, will distract them from their “Hello doggy” plans
  • Maybe just keep walking! With a quick “Morning!” as you pass
  • Or use the tried and tested policeman STOP hand signal. This is immensely effective at stopping people in their tracks, giving you time to arrange your dog where you want her, and allowing you to compose a suitable sentence to keep the person at a comfortable distance. You don't have to make excuses for your dog. Just think of a quick way of getting the person to do what you want. Practice this at home with a friend, so you feel brave enough to do it!
  • Talk to your dog quietly and politely - this may impress your would-be greeter that you don’t have to yell and grab this particular dog

 

The over-exuberant dog

If a meeting is appropriate, give clear instructions on how to greet your dog. You’ll train your dog how to do his part, using friends to help you. This means he’ll know this “game” when you want to use it in the wild.

Bouncy Goldie pup Alfie shows how to greet people

Greeting skills for a bouncy dog

  • Hand touch (your hand to start with)
  • Release cue (“Go say hi”, only when dog is sitting and calm)
  • Timing of reward (when he’s turned back to you)

 

Your clear instructions should be brief and simple. For instance, “just hold your hand down by your side so he can sniff it”. This tends to stop people leaning over your dog and grabbing or patting, ruffling or thumping. It also stops your dog leaping up to nose-dot them as they can inspect their hand instead.

By the time your dog has sniffed the hand to gain all the information he needs about the person, he’s already back with you for his treat. Job done.

Crowd control

Unless you know for a fact that the person wanting to chat to you and your dog will listen to you, follow your instructions, and understand what you’re doing - don’t let them near enough to cause trouble.

All this work you’ve put in to understanding how your dog’s mind works and how to get the best from her? It’s just the same with people! You can take a quick overview of the situation, remember my mantra above, make rapid decisions about whether a greeting should or should not happen, and take control of the meeting.

This way you won’t be caught out by those who think they know more about your dog than you do, and avoid the embarrassment of muddy pawmarks on the person’s clothes … or worse.

Remember if your dog thinks she has to defend herself against this invasive person, she’ll be more alarmed about the next person you pass, and may even consider a pre-emptive strike (leap out and snap) to keep them away.

 


For more ideas about how to have peaceful and uneventful walks, join the FREE 5 Day Video Workshop for your Growly but Brilliant Family Dog

 

All text and images © Copyright 2018 Beverley Courtney